‘Boning Up on TAMU

Head coach of Texas A&M or Sumlin like 'at.

Head coach of Texas A&M or Sumlin like ‘at.

Well, we made it.

When the game clock in Orlando hit triple zeroes on New Year’s Day last, we entered a dark time without Gamecock football. A dark, dingy, flophouse of time, with only vague practice reports and you tube videos to keep our baying hunger for college football in check.

But now months have given way to weeks, weeks to days, and days to creeping hours. Soon, gentle reader – so very, very soon – the waiting will be over.

And the frenetic worrying energy will crescendo with an actual live football contest.

In the meantime, some background on our week one opponent: The Aggies of Texas A&M.

Remember, these are actual colleges with actual students:

Texas A&M is a coeducational land-grant university located deep in the Louisiana part of Texas. A relative youngster compared to Carolina, the college was founded just yesterday. Yesterday being a relative term and denoting a crisp autumn morning in 1876, of course. The school boasts an enrollment of nearly 60,000 students (almost exactly TWICE our size) and includes a corps of cadets within its larger student body. The Aggies, as they are called, put the corps front and center of almost everything they do, which is a good thing I guess, except for . . .

 The weirdest thing about them:

I don’t know what to say.  Except it seems . . . .well, off somehow.  It ain’t SEC, that’s for sure.   Cheerleaders are supposed to look and act like cheerleaders, even the male ones.  These guys seem like that overzealous guy in your fraternity that got a little too into the songs and the ceremonies.  You know the one.

You don’t?

Ugh. Then it was you.

 Moving on:

The Aggies’ head man is Kevin Sumlin, a genial and well-respected young coach with blood lines that run back to Joe Tiller at Purdue.  He played college ball on the defensive side of things, but after exposure to Tiller’s passing attack, as well as tutelage under Mike Leach and Mike Sherman, he’s become something of an offensive guru.  Expect a version of the AirRaid offense – with quick passes out of the spread being their bread and butter.  Sumlin likes to get his playmakers out in space.

One wrinkle to watch for this year:

The above-described tendency notwithstanding, look for Sumlin to open with a surprisingly large barrage of running plays.  He’s starting a red shirt freshman in his first road game, and he graduated his top wide receivers.  The Oline is supposed to be a strength, so I’d wager they attempt to pound our Dline, at least at first.  Something to watch for, anyway.

That player you are going to hate:

Aggies Tight End Cameron Clear.  He’s gonna be in the slot.  He’s gonna run block at the line.  He’s gonna set up at Hback and block in the running game.  He’s big, he’s strong, and he supposedly has great hands.  You’re gonna hate him.

 The Enigma:

The Aggies are like every other team in college football nowadays; they have a kid they describe as “The Next Jadeveon Clowney.”  He’s true freshman Myles Garrett, a highly ranked defensive end out of Arlington, TX.  I don’t think he’s starting the game, but look for him in early and often as TAMU tries to rattle Dylan Thompson.

 The Ingenue:

Coming out of spring practice, Aggieland was all atwitter over true freshman wide out, Speedy Noil.  The number one rated WR out of high school last year, Speedy sprinted right past his own senior prom and streaked to the top of the TAMU post-spring depth chart.

 The thing that will tell the tale:

Which defense is able to slow down (even a little) the other offense?  The Aggies have struggled on the defensive side of the ball as of late, but they believe a new crop of top rated recruits are going to show improvement.  We’ve got our own players to replace, and we are insisting on moving a senior strong safety over to corner this year, which is never a good sign.

If one defense can find a way to throw the opposing offense off, even for a couple of series, then you might see a lead of two or three scores develop.  That makes the offense press harder, and pressing leads to mistakes.

William Carlos Williams explains further:

so much depends
upon

a big ol’
backer

can he create
pressure

and disrupt the
offense?

I forgot to mention:

Johnny Manziel in a TAMU discussion.  Aw crap, I just did.

OK, consider yourself all ‘bonzed up on Texas A&M.  Happy College Football Eve!

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